Key Takeaways

  • The BMW i8 has some minor fuel leak issues that were taken care of through recall
  • Electronics and batteries issues are possible, though not many if any are reported through CarComplaints
  • Some opinion based complaints say the vehicle is slow for a supercar, the reality is the hybrid powertrain saves on gas
  • The interior is plastic while other “supercars” have significant amounts of leather

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Before buying a very nice vehicle like the BMW i8, you might want to know about some problems the vehicle could have.

The BMW i8 has a handful of problems with fuel leaks that were taken care of early in the model’s life by BMW. Other opinion complaints are that the hybrid powertrain isn’t very fast, and the interior feels very cheap for the price. The vehicle otherwise does well mechanically.

We’ve done lots of car buying and worked at a dealership for years. We tend to use websites like CarComplaints for reports about short and long term mechanical issues. We also find Car and Driver very useful in rooting out how well vehicles like the BMW i8 fair compared to the competition.

Table of Contents

Potential Mechanical Problems with the BMW i8

Fuel Leaks

The initial releases of the BMW i8 back in 2014 had a bit of a problem with the fuel tank. As you know, the fuel tank should store fuel that is waiting to be used by the engine. Given the overall explosiveness and flammability of gas, having a leak coming from the fuel tank isn’t great. Gas smells and has an obvious potential hazard that could cause a fire and an explosion.

There were more than 200 reports of a faulty fuel tank causing gas leaks in the earliest days of the BMW i8, forcing BMW to issue a recall. The problem turned out to be an improper weld to a bolt that held the fuel tank to the chassis.

You might also realize that the BMW i8 is fairly exclusive and didn’t sell a huge number of vehicles. Only about 400 vehicles were sold at the time of recall, making the number recalled about half. Quite the ratio there! All is good now - BMW solved this issue immediately and years ago. If you do happen to look at one of the earliest BMW i8s available, just check to ensure that it either wasn’t a part of the recall or that the recall was attended to by a service department or mechanic.

Leaky Oil Filter Gasket

This problem isn’t reported at all on CarComplaints and probably hasn’t happened to many vehicles. The gasket on your oil filter effectively creates a seal for the transfer of oil from your oil pan to the rest of your engine. The seal is necessary for the proper movement of oil, and to keep these parts from harming one another.

In the BMW i8, it is possible for the seal to leak. Part of the issue here is that if the seal leaks, it puts more risk on the oil filter to fail and deliver bad oil in addition to causing the loss of more oil than normal. The BMW i8 does do a good job of telling you when oil is getting too low, so this isn’t a huge hassle so long as the oil filter gasket doesn’t allow the engine to dump too much oil.


Not overly common - but a potential problem is presented with the alternator and battery. The BMW i8 is a hybrid that relies on the recharging of the internal lithium battery to save you some fuel mileage.

The issue here is that if the battery or electronics fail, much of the infotainment and safety features will fail to work. For a vehicle with lots of these bells and whistles, this isn’t great. You might also get fuse issues with your air conditioning and heating system.

Non-Mechanical Problems


The BMW maintains its sharp look and performance with very unique scissor doors. These kinds of doors open partially vertically. Opening and closing these doors can take a little getting used to, as well as finding the right space to get in and out.

While this is purely speculative, a door with electronics is also more likely to fail and require extensive parts and expertise to fix compared to a traditional door.

Is it a supercar?

While some might vary in their definition of supercars, these cars tend to carry a combination of exotic looks and high performance. A very recent example of a borderline supercar is the latest iteration of the Chevrolet Corvette, which is often mistaken for a Ferrari.

The issue is that the BMW i8 has all the exterior looks you want in a supercar. Instead, the vehicle is powered by what is ultimately a hybrid powertrain, which limits the actual speed and acceleration of the vehicle. It’s still fun to drive. It is not, however, a Ferrari, Porsche, or anything especially fast.


Car and Driver complained extensively about the use of plastic on the interior. While we hesitate to say that the future probably does look like plastic, it also doesn’t fit in a vehicle that people will be spending north of $125,000 on.

The larger issue we see here is that every year of the BMW i8 as reviewed by Car and Driver has the same problem: Clearly, BMW isn’t trying to improve the interior of the i8.

Now to be fair, some people might actually like the plastic interior. It is easy to clean. Not everyone likes real wood grain the dashboard or high end furnishings like a clock and leather. Unfortunately, we would prefer those delicate details for the price.

Small interior

The rear sets on the BMW i8 are rather small. Like small enough to make even some kids feel cramped small. Of course, BMW probably did have to make a choice here. Multiple reviews from sites like Car and Driver say the front seats have ample leg room for tall drivers and passengers, which is unusual in itself. Have you seen someone try to get into a Corvette? Half the problem is finding a way to wedge yourself into the right position.

The BMW i8 offers one positive there: the front seats are comfortable. The rear are not. We kind of question why they chose to include a rear seat instead of just offering a biit more storage so we could fit our golf clubs or a bigger suitcase in the back.

Is the BMW i8 worth the problems?

Our answer here is purely subjective, but we will say that we found the non-mechanical issues to be a lot more significant than the mechanical issues. The gas leak issue was addressed almost immediately and reports of electrical problems are actually fairly sparse. We also know that BMW driver satisfaction is fairly high as they tend to take care of their customers in dealership in the event of any problems.

While we would certainly say that the BMW i8 is not for us and our family, there is absolutely a place for it. A driver who wants to drive a very sharp looking, futuristic vehicle with some serious electronics will like it. They also might question the value of spending $120,000 or more on a vehicle with a plastic interior, but they might value other things like the scissor doors.

To be fair, vehicles like the BMW i8 are purpose built for either one or two passengers who want some style and attention. People who need car seats or want to travel a long distance with tons of luggage are better off shopping elsewhere, or using the i8 as a second car.

If we had $120,000 and wanted a supercar, it might a great option for seriously sharp looks, though we would definitely be looking at a Corvette too. With gas prices going up, the BMW i8 might win out.

BMW i8 Problems & Complaints: Are The Issues Worth Buying?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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